posted on April 17, 2006 11:42
The Charlotte Observer reports (3-9-06) there will be no election at all in almost half the 170 races for State House and Senate this fall.
In addition, in the races all but a handful of the races that are contested, practically, if not legally, the outcome is all but decided. Because of how legislators have drawn their districts. (In other words, the districts lean so heavily to either the Republican or Democratic Party, the opposing candidate has little or no chance of winning.)
In all, just 26 out of 170 races – 15% – are in districts where a Republican and Democratic candidate each have a roughly equal chance of winning.
That means 85% of the voters in North Carolina have no real choice in the elections this fall. 41% of them have no choice at all. None. Because the election is not even contested.
How does this happen? It happens because legislators get to draw the lines for the districts they run in.
This is also one reason we have so many scandals. How much is a legislator going to worry about the consequences – of say, ‘pay to play’ – if he or she is immune to being held accountable at the ballot box?
Why not give a government grant, or a job to a political ally, or a little ‘special’ say in a piece of legislation to a political friend or supporter if there is little or no possibility you’ll have to explain it to voters in the next election?
Getting legislators to agree to give up the power to determine their own districts is going to be almost impossible. But, while the legislature is considering ‘reforms’ to clean up politics, it would be hard to find one more important than making elections for State House and Senate truly competitive again.
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